BY LEE FANG
Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., issued a press release on Friday declaring that he vetoed six pieces of legislation, including major reforms to Maryland criminal justice law.
The governor, who campaigned on a promise to limit government overreachto win his upset victory last November, vetoed legislation designed to rein in law enforcement abuse of power, including:
- SB 517, legislation to remove the penalty for marijuana paraphernalia (and impose a civil fine of up to $500 for smoking marijuana in public).
- SB 528, a bill to limit asset forfeiture seized by police and to prohibit seized property from being transferred to the federal government unless there is a federal criminal charge.
- HB 980, a bill to allow felons to register to vote.
Notably, in his letters to legislators explaining his vetoes of the marijuana and asset forfeiture bills, Hogan said he was taking action at the request of Maryland police unions, including the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association.
As we reported last month, a number of police accountability reforms in Maryland, including changes to the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, a barrier to investigating and prosecuting police misconduct, were defeated in committee after heavy lobbying by police unions.
What do Hogan’s vetoes mean for criminal justice reform? Some pundits claim the movement is moving forward thanks to the action of a unique left-right coalition, including the conservative billionaries, Charles and David Koch.
However, Hogan’s rise to power was backed by political infrastructure funded by the Koch brothers. Hogan used campaign data supplied by i360, a voter targeting database set up by the Koch brothers. Logan’s political group Change Maryland worked closely with Americans for Prosperity, the grassroots group founded and funded largely by the Kochs.
Will the Kochs lash out at Hogan, as they have before against lawmakers who cross them on major policy issues?
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Photo: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan greets Baltimore police dressed in riot gear the morning after citywide riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray (Mark Makela/Getty)